NGO “Global Playground Stockholm”, a non-profit and non – governmental organization, was established by the Russian speaking students in Stockholm. Its major working area is sustainable development. Among its plans is the implementation of the joint projects with partner organizations in Belarus and Ukraine. Aleh Kliatsko and Oksana Udovyk are telling about serious goals and game-like methods.
We are talking with: Oksana Udovyk from Ukraine, who is a PhD student at Södertörn University, the subject of her research work is “Ecological Governance”, and Aleh Kliatsko from Belarus, PhD student of the Royal Institute of Technology, his subject area is energetics, energy conservation and urban sustainable development.
Both of them, Oksana and Aleh, initiated establishment of the NGO “Global Playground”. Explaining the choice of its name, they say that they see the world as a playground, where all people could enjoy nature, life and play together. They say that they see future in this way. Because when we are talking about playground, we are thinking about playing, joy, mutual understanding and friendship. This is exactly how they see the future of our planet.
In doing all this they use one of the principles of the concept of sustainable development: ”Think globally – act locally”. While understanding the global issues such as climate change and global warming, these former students act locally, – that is in Stockholm.
But is such ”playing” approach appropriate, when one talks about such serious issues?
– We are working with youth. There are many organizations that work with global ecological issues. We wanted to find a niche, where we could do more. We are PhD students and have a good knowledge base. But the question is how we can make this knowledge accessible to the bigger amount of people in order to make them believe in change. Yes, one can call our methods “childlike”, but we want to achieve sustainable development by means of combining science and art. We don’t want the public that attends our events to fall asleep of boredom. We use different kinds of art, theater, photography, creative methods in order not only to tell, but also visually show that one can achieve global aims by using simple means.
There were a number of projects implemented in Stockholm, for example, our members planted vegetables at the rooftop of the dormitory in the centre of Gamla Stan.
Now we can already harvest them (see photo).
Another project is building of a house made completely out of waste. One has a possibility to see it in the premises of the Royal Institute of Technology.
Our members created also “Open Library” in Gamla Stan inside of the old telephone box. One can come there, live her/his books and take from others those books that one wants to read. At the same time, people can talk and get to know each other.
In the long run, we have international projects. Aleh Kliatsko tells about plans regarding Belarus, because he is coming originally from there.
At the same time, Oksna Udovyk tells about the projects that involve cooperation with the Ukrainian youth. The idea is simple – to invite partner organization to Sweden in order to show, using existing achievements, what can be applied in the countries of Eastern Europe plus without any significant expenses. To invite in order to show how this already works in Sweden.
In order to find means of financing such projects the activists of the organization apply for grants, for example, from the Swedish Institute. And they hope to get these grants.
Aleh and Oksana want to invite former students, who previously studied in Sweden and now perhaps are scattered around the world, to Ukraine. Informal means of education, for example, role games, exchange of experience – everything is for the sake of sharing the obtained knowledge and technologies that they got familiar with in Sweden with their partner organizations in Eastern Europe.
Is it hard to register such organization or association in Sweden in order to look for financial means for own projects afterwards?
– To register is easy. To design projects and seek financial means is harder, but possible. One must fulfill requirements of different funds or organizations, to submit documents in time, then to report on the results, to fill in mass of documents, and, what is the most important from the very beginning, to find partner organization in Belarus or Ukraine. All of this requires time and knowledge, but we have already gained experience, that is why we are looking into the future with hope and faith, say our guests.
And everything started as it usually happens in the similar cases from the volunteer work, meaning from investing voluntarily and free of charge time, effort and knowledge. During two years former students had been working only using their enthusiasm. They wanted something more than just education and work on their research. “We want to make this world slightly better”, – they say with juvenile ardour, not getting embarrassed of the “high profile” of their words, intentions and their pathos.
Oksana Udovyk tells, for example, how they built a house. The small house is made completely out of waste. She tells how they were looking for waste and collected it. And it worked out! Or, in other words, the idea of the “Urban Garden” at the rooftop of the dormitory was realized.
Everything was done again on the voluntary basis, using own efforts and own hands, one can say using sheer enthusiasm.
Zucchini, dill, parsley, tomatos – all this makes life in the city brighter and more interesting. Soil for planting beds we found at one theater…People brought seeds, pens and basins, where we planted these seeds…A lot of things can be done without money, says Oksana. If one finds like-mined people. And if one has a strong desire. Project “Open Library” is one of such almost made-for- free projects, adds Aleh. But big projects require of course money. And one can find necessary grants.
– We have few Swedes in our organization. It is so because from the very beginning the idea was to create something for the international students in Sweden. There are many similar Swedish associations. But when students from other countries come here, very few of them know Swedish at the level necessary for participation in them. At least, at the beginning of studies. That is why we targeted our activities towards international students. In order to help them to integrate into the Swedish society. Because those who are coming don’t know too much about Sweden, but want probably to do something besides their studies or research. We want to use this enormous potential that youth has.
The conversation with Aleh Kliatsko and Oksana Udovyk was carried out by Irina Makridova 14 August 2013 and translated from Russian to English by Roman Lisovenko.